The Musée Mécanique at Pier 45 has been family owned and operated since 1933. The world's largest privately-owned collection of Edward Galland Zelinsky, the museum possesses over 300 items ranging from orchestrions, coin-operated pianos, antique slot machines, and animations. You can journey through and interact with a plethora of unique objects from turn-of-the-century hand-cranked music boxes to modern video arcade games, all of which are in original working condition. The Musée Mécanique at Pier 45 is open 365 days a year from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m., and admission is free.
Zelinsky first began his collection at the age of 11 when he bought a penny skill game for 5 cents. From there, he began buying and trading relics to build his impressive collection.
One of Musée Mécanique's prized treasures is a steam-powered motorcycle built in 1912. This one of a kind relic still functions and is valued at over $250,000. The nostalgic collection also features vintage peep shows and flipbooks of hula dancers, fortune tellers reading tarot, and old-school photo booths that print out quality black-and-white photo strips.
Check out the unique museum in the video below:
Many of the mechanical machines are tied to San Francisco's history. The Royal Court diorama, which depicts dancing couples in a ballroom, was featured at the 1915 Panama-Pacific International Exposition. The museum's famously creepy Laffin Sal came from the Fun House at Playland at the Beach. Interestingly enough, some of the more unique machines are those crafted by prisoners at Alcatraz, such as elaborate creations made out of toothpicks.
Cover image: “Bowling Game” by Geof Wilson is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0.